When it comes to buying residential real estate, a myriad of questions naturally arise. While some inquiries are standard in real estate transactions across different regions, there are specific questions that hold particular importance when purchasing a home in Guam.
Guam, an extraordinary island like no other, boasts a uniqueness that demands a thorough understanding before starting the home-buying journey. From the diverse array of available property types to the various geographical locations, Guam's real estate terrain mirrors the island's vibrancy and diversity, making it essential to navigate with both knowledge and curiosity.
Importance of Understanding Key Aspects Before Buying Property
When buying a new home in Guam, there are many things to consider that can greatly affect one’s ability to purchase a property. Regardless of whether you are a first-time buyer or planning to either upsize or downsize, there are aspects of Guam’s real estate purchasing process that many buyers may not be aware of.
It is also important to spend time researching the types of properties that can be purchased, the financing options available, costs associated with buying, and of course, any legal or procedural requirements.
In hopes that buying a home in Guam is a seamless and exciting process, let’s take a look at the top 6 frequently asked questions about purchasing residential real estate.
What Are the Best Places to Buy in Guam?
First things first, let’s discuss the various locations in Guam that are popular for buying residential real estate. As previously mentioned, Guam is an incredibly unique and diverse place and this can be seen quite clearly through its population as well as its cities and towns. Listed below are some popular places to consider if you are in the market for buying a home in Guam.
Santa Rita is where Big Navy is located. As such, this village is particularly favored by military members and families (regardless of branch) who work on the Navy Base. This village in the South falls under the McCool school district for DoDEA students. Santa Rita features mostly single-family dwellings, and it's surrounded by stunning natural attractions like the Guatali River and Tarzan Falls, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.
Nestled at the island's core, this central village enjoys a strategic location close to the Guam airport, conveniently positioned between Big Navy and Andersen Air Force Base. Barrigada Heights, an upscale community within the village, features grand residences perched on an elevated environment, offering captivating views of the city, airport, and ocean. Mixed housing options, encompassing apartments, single-family homes, and multi-family dwellings, cater to a wide range of preferences. This village falls under DoDEA’s Andersen school district.
As the most densely populated village on the island, Dededo offers an enticing lifestyle for residents. Its proximity to the Air Force Base and Camp Blaz makes it a preferred destination for many military families, with some Navy Base personnel even choosing the 30-minute commute to enjoy the Northern village's unique way of life. Families with school-age children in the military will find Dededo within the Andersen school district, and it provides a range of housing options, from apartments and townhomes to single and multi-family dwellings, making it an affordable choice for many.
Guam comprises 19 distinctive villages, each with its own unique charm, and Yigo stands out as an enchanting and captivating locale. Residing in this picturesque village offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture, savor delectable cuisine, and engage in activities that are exclusive to this part of the world.
Yigo proudly hosts the renowned Anderson Air Force Base, which occupies a significant portion of the village's land. This base serves as a significant source of employment for both military personnel and civilians who contribute to its operations. Consequently, Yigo boasts a vibrant community composed of locals, expatriates, and military personnel, all of whom call this wonderful village their home.
Tumon, recognized as the hub of Guam's tourism industry, stands out as a prominent village, celebrated for its stunning beaches and picturesque palm-lined shores. Serving as a vibrant focal point, Tumon offers an array of shopping centers and entertainment options, including Hawaiian Fire Dancing and Chamorro shows, while also boasting a lively nightlife. The real estate opportunities in Tumon primarily comprise condominiums, with the rare availability of single-family homes and townhomes. The latter two are on the higher end of the price scale due to their rarity.
What Are The Types of Properties Available in Guam?
In Guam's competitive real estate market, a distinctive blend of property options caters to varying preferences and family structures. Reflecting the island's limited land availability, the cost of building full concrete dwellings and the prevalence of multi-generational living, many homes tend to be more modest compared to mainland standards.
Prospective buyers can explore a broad spectrum of housing choices, ranging from cozy single-family residences that offer intimate island living, to stylish condominiums and townhouses providing low-maintenance urban lifestyles. For those seeking investment opportunities, multi-unit properties present a promising avenue to maximize returns in this dynamic real estate landscape.
Guam's property market, marked by its adaptability and versatility, ensures that there's a suitable home for every island dweller.
How Does The Buying Process in Guam Work?
Buying real estate in Guam follows a structured and legally regulated path. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you understand how it works:
- Set a Budget and Needs: Determine your budget and property requirements.
- Pre-qualify with a Lender: If looking to do a mortgage, it’s best to know what the bank can be able to loan you.
- Hire a Real Estate Agent: Get a licensed agent to assist you.
- Property Search: Explore properties with your trusted realtor that match your criteria.
- Negotiation and Offer: Make an offer and negotiate terms.
- Contract and Escrow: Sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) and place earnest money in escrow.
- Financing: Secure a mortgage if needed.
- Home Inspection: Conduct a property inspection.
- Appraisal: A lender-requested appraisal is done to ensure the property value is accurate.
- Title Search and Insurance: Verify the property's title and get title insurance.
- Closing Costs and Final Walkthrough: Cover closing expenses and do a final property inspection.
- Closing: Sign documents, exchange funds, and take possession of the property.
- Recording and Possession: Record sale documents, officially becoming the property owner.
- Post-Closing: Handle property taxes, utility transfers, and maintenance.
Are There Any Additional Costs Involved in Buying Property?
When buying a property in Guam, there are several additional costs to consider beyond the purchase price. If you are doing a conventional mortgage, you need to budget for the down payment (some can be as low as 3% and others as high as 20%) of the type of mortgage you qualify for. If you are a VA Buyer, there is no down payment.
These include closing costs, encompassing fees for the lender and title/escrow company, as well as potential expenses like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities. Closing costs typically cover items such as loan origination fees, title insurance, and legal fees, while property taxes are an ongoing obligation. Closing costs are anywhere between 3-6%.
It's also important to budget for homeowners or hazard insurance, regular maintenance, and any homeowners association fees (if applicable). Proper financial planning and a detailed budget that includes these extra costs are essential for a successful and financially responsible property purchase in Guam.
Some key tips for successful financial planning when buying a home in Guam include:
- Create a Detailed Budget
- Emergency Fund
- Loan Pre-Qualification
- Research Tax Breaks
- Consult Professionals
- Plan for Renting out or Resale
By taking these steps to ensure you are properly prepared, Guam's real estate market provides an exciting opportunity for prospective buyers to find their dream home and begin their island life.
What Should I Know About Property Financing in Guam?
In Guam, mortgage options and lending practices closely mirror those in the United States. Homebuyers on the island can choose from a range of mortgage options, including the stability of fixed-rate mortgages and the initial cost savings of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), which can adjust periodically.
Local lending institutions, including banks and credit unions, adhere to standard underwriting practices, assessing factors such as creditworthiness, income, and property value when reviewing loan applications. Credit scores hold substantial significance, influencing the loan terms, particularly in terms of interest rates.
Alongside this, eligibility criteria encompass elements like debt-to-income ratios, employment history, and down payment requirements. To streamline the mortgage process in Guam, it's advisable to secure pre-qualification before embarking on your property search, providing clarity on your borrowing capacity.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Location in Guam?
Location is what can make or break a property purchase, and this is no different on Guam. With each of the island's villages offering distinct character, culture, amenities, and attractions, prospective buyers should consider their individual preferences when selecting an area to settle down in.
Factors to consider include:
Proximity to Amenities: Evaluate the proximity to essential amenities such as schools, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping centers. Guam's very limited public transportation makes it crucial to have these services within a reasonable distance.
Transportation: Guam lacks public transportation, so access to major roadways and commute times to work or other destinations should be a primary consideration. Determine the convenience of your chosen location in terms of getting around the island.
Community Vibe: Different regions of Guam offer distinct community vibes. The northern part, including Tumon, is known for its tourist attractions and bustling atmosphere. Central Guam provides a mix of urban and suburban living, while the southern region offers a more relaxed, rural setting. Consider your lifestyle preferences when selecting the right fit.
Proximity to Work: If you're employed or stationed on Guam, proximity to your workplace is crucial to minimize commute times. The island's size allows for relatively short commutes, but traffic patterns can vary. Once you get spoiled with the short drives, anything more than 30 minutes is considered “far.”
Recreation and Lifestyle: Consider your recreational and lifestyle preferences. Guam offers beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and cultural events. Choose a location that aligns with your interests.
Future Development: Research any planned developments or infrastructure projects that may impact the area's growth and property values.
Local Services: Evaluate the availability of essential services such as healthcare facilities, police stations, and fire departments in your prospective neighborhood.
Resale Value: Consider the potential resale value of your property in the future, as different areas may appreciate at varying rates.
Leasing Probability: If looking to rent out the property, consider if your desired tenant rents in your area. If you’re looking to rent to the military, safety is the top concern.
To wrap it all up, Guam's residential real estate market unveils itself as a multi-dimensional realm, catering to an array of dreamers, from astute investors eyeing promising opportunities to military individuals eager to craft their haven on this captivating island. Guam, with its intrinsic charm and strategic positioning, beckons those who aspire to invest in a distinctive lifestyle while securing their financial future.
For military personnel and all other prospective homebuyers initiating their search in this beautiful and diverse tropical destination, understanding the ins and outs of the local residential real estate market is essential to success. With an informed approach and a hands-on attitude, individuals can make their dreams of living on Guam a reality.